Governor Dodge State Park
Governor Dodge State Park is one of the state's largest parks, with 5,350 acres of steep hills, bluffs and deep valleys plus two lakes and a waterfall. Located in Wisconsin's scenic driftless area, Governor Dodge offers camping, picnicking, hiking, canoeing, biking, hunting, fishing, off-road biking, cross-country skiing and horseback riding opportunities.
Activities and recreation:
Governor Dodge maintains nearly 40 miles of trails. All are open to hiking, except on ski trails when they are snow-covered.
The park has 8 miles of challenging off-road bicycle trails. State Trail Passes are required to use the bike trails. Trails are open May 1 to November 15 unless posted otherwise. Meadow Valley and Mill Creek trails are designated off-road biking trails.
The park has 22 miles of bridle trails providing riders an unequaled view of Governor Dodge's rich and varied landscape. Bring your own horse, as the park does not provide rentals. Day-use parking is available, as well as horse campsites. State trail passes are required to use the bridle trails. Trails are open May 1 to November 15 unless posted otherwise.
Regular (family) campsites
Governor Dodge has 269 campsites in Twin Valley and Cox Hollow campgrounds. Electrical hookups are available at 80 sites. All campers must register at the park office before occupying their sites.
There are eight campsites that can accommodate groups of 15 to 40 persons per site in the Hickory Ridge Group Camp. Only tents are allowed. Each group site has a large tent area, picnic tables, a large fire ring and a set of pit toilets. Drinking water is available at the shower building located near group site B and across from the backpack sites parking lot near group sites E, F, G and H.
There are six backpack campsites near the Hickory Ridge. All require about a half mile hike from the parking lot. Water and pit toilets are near the parking lot. Advance reservations are recommended.
The park has 11 regular campsites for horse campers in the Trails End Horse Camp. No electricity is available. Reservations are recommended. The horse campground and horse trails are open May 1 to November 15. Fees are the same as for regular sites.
Two small group sites are also available in the horse campground on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact the park office for more information.
Tether poles are provided at each campsite. Please bring your own tethering ropes, as none are available at the park. Please contact the park office for information about the use of fencing or other types of restraining devices.
Camping facilities and services
Limited supplies are available at the Cox Hollow Beach concession stand from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Other needs can be supplied year round by businesses in Dodgeville, three miles south of the park.
There are showers in the Twin Valley and Cox Hollow rest room buildings. Both campgrounds have trailer dumping stations.
Please help us recycle your park generated waste! Recycling centers and refuse containers are at Cox Hollow beach concession, the two family campgrounds and the Group Camp area.
More than 30 campsites in the Twin Valley campground are available for winter campers. A few of these sites are plowed. Electricity, pit toilets, picnic tables and fire rings are provided. Winter water is available at the park office. If camping is not your style, you may want to spend a day at the park and then head back at night to seek the comforts of one of the local motels.
Campsites #16 and #55 in the Cox Hollow campground and sites #241 and #355 in the Twin Valley campground are reservable for visitors with disabilities. Both sites have electricity and paved driveways. The toilet buildings in these areas have separate toilet/shower facilities for campers with disabilities. Ask at the office for a key to the facilities. Access is also provided to several playground components in both family campground play areas.
Group campsite "E" in the Hickory Ridge group campground has a paved path to the campsite and toilet facilities.
Picnic areas and playgrounds
There are eight designated picnic areas. Picnic shelters are available at Enee Point, the amphitheater, Twin Valley picnic area and Cox Hollow and Twin Valley beaches. Contact the park office for shelter reservation information.
There are accessible shelter buildings at Cox Hollow Beach and Enee Point picnic areas. Accessible toilet facilities and picnic tables are provided at both beaches, Cox Hollow boat landing and Enee Point picnic area. Accessible water fountains are conveniently placed throughout the park.
Swimming beaches are located on both lakes. Bathhouses are found near both beaches. The beaches are open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. No lifeguards are on duty.
Boating, canoeing and kayaking
There are launching ramps on both Cox Hollow and Twin Valley Lakes. Electric motors only are permitted on both lakes. Boat mooring is permitted May 1 through October 31 at designated areas only. Row boats and canoes may be rented daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day at the Cox Hollow Beach concession stand. Rentals are also available during the spring and fall weekends.
The park’s two man-made lakes offer excellent fishing. Species include bass, walleye, muskie and panfish. Fishing licenses are required and may be purchased at local bait shops. Consult the current fishing regulations for special size and bag limits. A fishing deck is available at Cox Hollow boat landing.
Anglers of any age may check out basic fishing equipment free of charge at the park office. This equipment was donated by the Tackle Loaner Program. Call the park office to find out what equipment is available.
Hunting and trapping
Hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park during the Wisconsin state parks hunting and trapping time frame. Trapping is not permitted in closed areas as noted on the park hunting map or within 100 yards of any designated use area, including trails. Certain trap types are restricted on state park properties.
Governor Dodge has over 12 miles of ski trails. Many trails can be reached from the Cox Hollow Beach trailhead. Water, picnic tables and vault toilet facilities are also available at the trailhead. Lakeview, Lost Canyon, Mill Creek and Meadow Valley (in order from easiest to most difficult) are groomed for skiing when conditions permit.
Two lakes in the park offer ice fishing opportunities throughout the winter. A bait shop is conveniently located nearby. The park does not monitor ice conditions or make recommendations as to the safety of the ice.
Winter hiking and snowshoeing
Snowshoeing is allowed anywhere in the park except on cross-country ski trails. Try the Uplands Trail, Hickory Ridge group camp area or Twin Valley picnic area. Winter hiking is available on Pine Cliff Trail and the Uplands Trail. All other park trails are open to either skiers or snowmobilers only.
Sledding and tobogganing are great family sports. All you really need is a hill and a friend to pull your toboggan back up the hill. The Twin Valley Beach hill is a popular spot for sledding. Pit toilets are available at the Twin Valley Boat Landing. There are plenty of hills in the park—pick one and enjoy!
A 15-mile trail offers scenic views of this large spacious park. The park trail also connects with the 40-mile Military Ridge Trail to provide hours of riding enjoyment.
The opening and closing of snowmobile trails is at the discretion of each county. Snowmobile trails which cross DNR lands are opened and closed consistent with the surrounding county (or counties). Whenever possible, the opening and closing of snowmobile trails is done on a county-wide basis, however localized conditions may require localized trail opening and closing. It is the responsibility of the county to provide notification about the status of snowmobile trails.
Governor Dodge State Park is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media